Thousands of mentally ill people are locked up in prison, many of
whom have been sectioned and are awaiting transfer to a psychiatric
hospital, the commissioner for correctional services admitted last
Martin Narey warned delegates at the Howard League for Penal
Reform’s annual meeting: “They cannot be treated in prison, and
many in prison get worse.”
He expressed concern about the number of suicides in prison and
highlighted the difficulties in identifying vulnerable people and
protecting them when there were so many people in prisons generally
and such high levels of mental distress.
Narey said the main problem with the criminal justice system was
that judges had lost faith in the use of fines, so many more people
were being given community punishments, placing a burden on the
Those who should be receiving a community penalty were being placed
in custody, resulting in overpopulated prisons and a probation
service “swamped with low risk offenders”.